10 Most Colorful Freshwater Fish 32

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When you think about freshwater fish, brackish water and monotonous orange and white colored fish might come to mind. Clearly you haven’t discovered this post until now!

If you are looking for ways to brighten up your freshwater aquarium, finding an eye-catching and colorful freshwater fish is easier than you might think, especially when you have a list like the one below to help you out.

Keep on reading to discover more about the top 10 most colorful freshwater fish. You just might be surprised to find out how beautiful and Fin-Tastic freshwater fish can be.

1. Discus

The discus fish are a genus of Cichlids, which are native to the Amazon River basin. Their bright colors make them popular as a great choice for freshwater aquariums. Their brain pattern marking and colors range from reds, oranges, browns, creams and brilliant shades of bright blue.

Discus fish have stunning markings and bright brilliant all-over body colors. They also come in single color varieties and even pure white. There are many natural species of Discus but also man-made cultivated strains in which breeders have produced hundred of variations of shapes, patterns and coloring.

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2. Killifish 

Killifish are widespread throughout Asia, South and North America, Africa and parts of Europe. They are lavishly colored and popular amongst hobbyist in the word because they are easy to keep in your freshwater aquarium. They come in red, blue and orange colorations.

The female Killifish are much less vibrantly colored and the male bodies have blue and yellow coloration with orange spots and stripes from the body to the tip of fins. It may be difficult to find one at your local fish store because Killifish are so attractive and popular amongst hobbyists.

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3. Male Betta

These popular Betta Fish (also known as the Siamese Fighting Fish) come in a large variety of fin types and colors. There are numerous vibrant colors to choose from including white, black, yellow red, purple, orange and blue.

They are available in monochrome colors, but a Betta displaying 2 or more colors with its large elegant flowing fins is unmatched when it comes to other freshwater fish. The fact that they have a long lifespan and are easy to take care of makes them one of the most popular freshwater fish.

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4. German Blue Ram

The German Blue Ram is a peaceful and colorful small-sized Cichlid. This species is flamboyantly colored. Yellow-green colors make up the main body and blue dots cover the fins. There are also seven darker vertical stripes on the fish and one very obvious strip on the head and through the eye.

There are red patches on the belly, near the eyes and upper and lower sections of the dorsal and tail fin. The fins are red and blue and the dorsal fin is dominated by yellow with black markings.

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5. Endlers Livebearer

The Endler (properly named Poecilia wingei) is rare in pet shops but can be seen occasionally in the homes and freshwater tanks of Endler enthusiasts. They have a similar look to the wild Guppy.

They offer brilliant, neon and unique colorations including orange, black, yellow-green and baby blue. They may be small but with their coloration, they can’t be missed. They have a peaceful nature, are tolerant to changing aquarium conditions and are easy to take care of.


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6. Boeseman’s Rainbowfish

The Boseman’s Rainbowfish (also known as the Bosemani Ranbowfish) is endemic to Indonesia near Western New Guinea. It has a peaceful demeanor and is a popular freshwater aquarium fish amongst hobbyists due to their rare coloration.

Their color pattern is unique from other species of rainbowfish. The rear half of the fish is a bright red-orange and the front half is bluish-grey or purple. The body contains narrow dark lines, the fins are orange and the two dorsal fins are white on the outer edges.

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7. Gourami

Gouramis are a group of freshwater fish that are native to Asia, Pakistan, India and Korea. Several of them have more different color combinations and patterns.The most colorful Gourami species are the Red Fire Dwarf Gouramis, the Blue Gouramis, and the Banded Gouramis.

Many Gouramis have a feeler barb at the front of their pelvic fins. They are almost the perfect aquarium fish as they are colorful, active, entertaining, are easy to care of and are hardy in freshwater aquariums. They come in many different stunning color variations like blue, gold, neon and sunset.

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8. Peacock Cichlid

The Peacock Cichlid possesses distinct characteristics that have made them popular amongst aquarium hobbyists for over 30 years. The Peacock Cichlid display dozens of color patterns and iridescent brilliance, which consists of blue, gold, bright yellow, red, and vivid orange.

They also have vertical dark stripes along the body. Unlike other Cichlids, the Peacock Cichlid is relatively peaceful with other fish.

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9. Fantail Guppy

Fantail guppies are a plentiful, attractive, and inexpensive fish. The diverse colors and patterns on the long tails of fantail guppies make them a beautiful fish to watch as they move around the aquarium. Their graceful appearance is one of the many reasons why freshwater aquarium hobbyists are enchanted by this species.

There are over 20 various color combinations common to the guppy species. They can be seen in solid reds, blues, purples, blues and yellows as well as metallic and white combinations with beautiful spots on their large delicate tails.

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10. Flowerhorn Cichlid

This semi-aggressive Flowerhorn Cichlid is farm raised in the United States and has come into existence due to crossbreeding different American Cichlid species. They are named for their distinctive shaped protruding head and their dark flower shaped spots. The most popular color amongst hobbyists is red.

More colors and distinct patterns will lead to a higher cost. Some breeds of this colorful Cichlid can be exceptionally expensive. “The most expensive Golden Monkey was sold for 600-thousand dollars during a Malaysian exhibition in 2009”.[citation]

Flowerhorn cichlid top 10 most colorful freshwater fishimage source

More Colorful Freshwater Fish

In addition to getting a handle on these colorful characters for your aquarium, you can also manipulate your tank in order to further show off the colors of your fish. Lights, rocks, gravel, backgrounds, plants and corals will add even more splashes of color to your freshwater tank or improve the observer’s focus to your beautiful flashy fish.

Above all, when searching for your perfect colorful aquarium buddies, make sure you know the needs and requirements of your fish in order for it to live a long, colorful, happy and healthy life.

Research the temperature, pH, and dietary requirements and know what types of fish will work well together. Ask questions and choose a healthy colorful freshwater fish that will look just as good as a bright and multicolored saltwater fish.

There are more than just 10 colorful freshwater fish check out the list below and view our honorable mentions:

  • Kirbensis
  • Clown Loach
  • Jack Dempsey – Blue
  • Tiger Barb
  • Angelfish
  • Neon Tetra
  • Mbuna Cichlid
  • Cardinal tetra
  • Cockatoo Dwarf Ciichlid
  • Swordtail Platy
  • Plecostomus
  • Corydoras Catfish
  • Green Terror Cichlid
  • Asian Arowana

What’s Your Say?

Have you seen a more colorful freshwater fish that hasn’t been mentioned in the post above? We would love to hear about it in the comments section below.

About Dennis Hanson

Dennis is an experienced aquarist with many years of knowledge and experience in keeping successful tanks. He also has no relations to the pop group Hanson.

32 thoughts on “10 Most Colorful Freshwater Fish

  1. Reply Ross McManus Sep 26,2014 10:15 pm

    Thank you so much for your wonderful posts. They have inspired me to start an aquarium. I initially had a 23 gallon aquarium with black skirt tetras and platies, also plastic plants. Now I have a seaclear 40 gallon acrylic tank with platies, endlers, and plenty of live plants, driftwood and some slate. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate what you do :-)

    • Reply Dennis H. Sep 27,2014 2:06 pm

      Hi Ross,

      Thank you for your kind comment, much appreciated.

      and good luck with the new tank!:)

      • Reply Jennifer B. Sep 17,2016 3:19 am

        CAN YOU HELP?????
        I would like to get some cheap easy to care for colorful fish
        I have…
        1 black moor….1 red cap oranda….3 comet goldfish….2 plecostomus
        I hope to get
        2 butterfly and 1 common koi….some blue,red,yellow shrimp and Whisker Shrimp….some colorful sharks….1 female guppy 2 male guppys
        need suggestions for
        small eel…. and some more colorful fish

  2. Reply Big Buck Sep 27,2014 11:21 pm

    Soooo much incorrect information haha too many examples to list…

    • Reply Dennis H. Sep 28,2014 11:50 am

      Thanks for your feedback. We’ll certainly look into it. :)

    • Reply Mark C Feb 17,2016 9:40 pm

      I agree with Big Buck, really a lot of incorrect information, one example is killifish, that section is written as if you are talking about one species, when killifish are about 1270 different species in 7 different families. To wit: “The female Killifish are much less vibrantly colored and the male bodies have blue and yellow coloration with orange spots and stripes from the body to the tip of fins.” Which species are you talking about here? There are so many different species with wildly different color patterns and palettes, yet you seem to think all killis look like Aphiosemion gardineri.

      Another example: “It may be difficult to find one at your local fish store because Killifish are so attractive and popular amongst hobbyists.”
      That’s not why killis are hard to find. They are hard to find because they tend to be for specialized breeders, especially the annuals, which are some of the most brilliantly colored, that only live about 9 months, and whose eggs must be kept out of water in peat for a few months in order to hatch them.

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  5. Reply Stephen C Nov 3,2014 3:46 am

    I would like to know if these are are community fish, and where are some places to find the Killifish?

  6. Reply boris Jan 11,2015 11:11 pm

    umm tropheus???

  7. Reply Adam Jun 7,2015 10:54 am

    Hey I’m starting up a new tank if all I use is tap water and have a filter what types of fish can I put in my tank? I really would like some colourful fish

  8. Reply Adam Jun 7,2015 10:57 am

    I have the tank and gravel and a filter and an ornament no heaters or anything so what would that be? And what types of fish can I put in it? I’m looking for colourful fish that I can mix

  9. Reply hi Jun 22,2015 3:47 pm

    None not tap water

  10. Reply kelli Jul 24,2015 7:48 pm

    Yes you can! We did the same thing with a 30 gal tank and let it run for 3 weeks with no fish in it ….as of 2 days ago we angelfish, peacock eels, gouramis and tetras in it and they are doing great!! Just saying! Not everyone is an expert guys… Be nice to the ppl that are asking for help!

  11. Reply Aziz Aug 2,2015 11:33 am

    I would like u to share information about parrot fish

  12. Reply NK Sep 18,2015 6:41 pm

    Informative post. Thanks for sharing it.

  13. Reply Murdoc Oct 20,2015 11:59 am

    You do not seperate which of these are COLD water or Tropical fish. Please do so. Thanks.

  14. Reply John Feb 25,2016 5:29 pm

    I have a 150 gallon mostly African cichlids tank. U have to be careful because of aggression issues. With the correct combo. They are beautiful and interesting. Touch the glass. They will follow u around. Not run and hide. Great for my nieces.

    Now for a favorite of mine is an African catfish. …synodontis angelicus. Black with snow white dots and small lines all over. Love them

  15. Reply Akash Angs Mar 10,2016 6:03 am


    Nice post :) Im pretty much fascinated to buy a fish tank filled with pretty colorful non-typical fish species.

    Will it be possible if you can help me out with details such as the cost of the tank, how large is recommended, the cost of different species & such.

    Please do write me back. Thank you!

    • Reply shivam sachan May 5,2016 5:27 pm


      Good information,, but try to be more specific !
      These are all community fishes like Dwarf gaurami , platy , swordtail fish,
      fighter fish, guppy ,tiger barb , danios, black skirt . You can get all of them
      and setup a good tank . I will personally recommend to start with atleast 100 gallon tank. It works gud.!

  16. Reply Sion Apr 24,2016 6:44 pm

    Very nice and beautiful……
    Our World is blessed by god with lots of colourful creatures…..
    But the creatures were sinned by their beautiful looks and attractions because we, the fool citizens captured them for our pleasure….
    I know this is out of the track but still I want to inform you that if you keeping and loved them by heart then it is okey…. and if someone teasing them by poking, pulling, pushing, bullying, etc.. Then I request u that to put that person in locked room for one day…
    I not want to hurt anybody….
    Thank you…..
    Enjoy the natural beauty….

  17. Reply Faimuddin Apr 24,2016 6:47 pm

    Shall I put you into a locked room for one day…..

  18. Reply ankita kundu Sep 5,2016 2:39 pm

    which of this fishes i can put in one aquarium i.e. discuss fish, neon tetra, glofish, cichild, betta fish, guppies, boesemani rainbow, bolivian ram, butterfly fish, clown loach, darter fish??? plese tell me.. help me..

  19. Reply looking for killifish Sep 10,2016 3:05 pm

    every one shows killifish but no fish store online or brick store has or gets them in ,the result is they are seasonal, but out for the many types only a few are, they are so common they are out of stock all the time and if you do find them on ebay you end up paying $50 or $60 for shipping

  20. Reply bull#894 Oct 11,2016 3:39 am

    gouramis really

  21. Reply James Martin Apr 6,2017 2:33 am

    Wow…really bad info. So many mistakes omissions etc in terms of the proper care of the species listed.
    I find it hard to believe you are an experienced aquarist.
    Thanks though for giving the image source info. ( my pic of peacock)

  22. Reply Bianca May 6,2017 7:32 pm

    Hi, I just got a new fish tank. It is 52 liters. And I’m looking for cold freshwater fish that is easy to handle but I don’t want goldfish. What do you suggest

  23. Reply Tracey Dec 15,2017 8:27 am

    Temper fish work pretty well I started with temper then moved on to tropica

  24. Reply Dennis hanson Mar 2,2018 5:46 pm

    Hi , I want to do an experiment with ornamental fishes… Regarding colour enhancement.which is the best ornamental fish through which I can enhance colour? Will pure white colour fish can change colour while feeding colour enhancer? waiting for the response.

  25. Reply Meiki Mar 9,2018 2:27 am

    Thanks for sharing this informative article! I grew up with all kinds of fish and now as my own adult… I have owned 2 bettas… my bff is nearing 3 years… I have managed to have a 5 nerites and 12 shrimp and thinking I would like to set up another tank… hands down another betta. I have a 20 gallon and some friends think it’s strange I only have 1 fish (Next step is 55 gallon for my bff). But he is absolutely beautiful. He is a salmon color and snow white with a pearly iridescent sheen to him. I cannot even look at another fish. Because of his beauty, I have become obsessed with bettas. I looked here to see if maybe I would have a change of mind. Even though the fish are each in itself gorgeous.. I love the serenity and grace that bettas have. Even though mine gets a little goofy and likes to play around a lot.

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